Joseph McCloud said he had so much love and respect for Emilia Gonzalez, a nurse he met six years ago, that he “could write a book about her”.
Instead, he wrote her a 331-word Instagram tribute, which landed the couple a lavish wedding last fall at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif.
When asked for a word to describe their Oct. 30 nuptials led by Rev. Karna Carr, a United Methodist minister, Ms Gonzalez and Mr McCloud agreed to “unforgettable.”
But for Mr McCloud, 32, and Ms Gonzalez, 28, there will never be enough words to express how their lives have been affected by the pandemic, which has forced them to postpone planning their first wedding, originally scheduled for the fall of 2020.
âOur facility experienced an outbreak from August to September in 2020,â said Ms. Gonzalez, infection control nurse at the Pleasanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pleasanton, Calif. “It’s six weeks of physical and mental exhaustion. I worked almost every day, I came on weekends and was on call 24 hours a day.”
Through it all, Mr. McCloud was her “greatest ally”, she said. “He made sure to take care of me and everything he could so that I could focus on restoring our facility to pre-Covid status.”
It was Ms. Gonzalez’s work on the front lines, and the sacrifices the couple had to make as a result, that ultimately led to the two of their “unforgettable” marriage.
“It has all been so surreal,” said Mr. McCloud. “It’s like Emilia and I are living a dream.”
It was a dream that began with a chance meeting between Mr. McCloud and Ms. Gonzalez in May 2015 at a bar in San Jose, California. âHe was actually at the bar when our eyes connected,â Ms. Gonzalez said of that night. . “Then a few minutes went by, and he was just standing there, not moving, and I didn’t know what to think.”
Neither does Mr. McCloud, a security operations specialist for Sony in San Mateo, Calif. “I had the courage to meet her,” he said with a laugh.
Sensing that she was about to walk away, he made up his mind to approach her and said that the best greeting he could muster was to let out an ancient line: “What the hell the hell is that?” a nice girl like you do in a place like this?
Ms Gonzalez said she had never heard this line before and “gave it an A-plus rating.” She said she told Mr McCloud that she went to the bar that evening with her sister, Cristina Gonzalez, who “then waited for me to come out so we could all come home together”.
Mr McCloud added: âIt seemed like a good situation, but now I had to find the courage to talk to two women. “
He finally settled into an easy conversation with the Gonzalez sisters and soon made a good impression on both of them.
âI thought he was so charming,â Ms. Gonzalez said, âand my sister loved him too, so I couldn’t wait to see him again.â
They exchanged phone numbers and, two weeks later, Mr McCloud and Ms Gonzalez set up a first date at a restaurant in Tracy, Calif., Where Ms Gonzalez lived at the time.
âWe had so many things in common, like trying to find Mr. and Mrs. Right,â Ms. Gonzalez said. âWe sat there and talked for hours. It was just wonderful.
After dinner they went for a walk and shared their first kiss. When Mr. McCloud briefly held Ms. Gonzalez’s hand, she said her heart had started racing. âI could feel my heart beating in my chest,â she said. “It kept beating faster and faster.”
Mr McCloud and Ms Gonzalez started dating regularly and after about a year they moved in together in 2016. In 2019, talks about the marriage led Mr McCloud to seek his parents’ permission on a trip. in the Phillippines.
However, once Mr. McCloud started planning the purchase of the perfect ring, what should have taken 30 days turned into a three-month delay when the jeweler he purchased the ring from closed his shop. store in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The couple got engaged on May 23, 2020.
The following January, their plans for a wedding were still in the works when a mutual friend called to tell Ms Gonzalez and Mr McCloud that Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort were having a social media contest. The prize was a free wedding, worth around $ 30,000, to a frontline healthcare worker or emergency responder who had to postpone a wedding until 2020 due to the demands of their job.
The winning couple could invite up to 100 people to the wedding reception, which would be held on the terrace of the Meritage vineyard. (Ms Gonzalez and Mr McCloud hosted 75, most of whom were vaccinated; they dined on California sea bass and New York steak, accompanied by a lemon banana cake.) The winners would also receive a free two-night stay in a suite at the MÃ©ritage.
âI was stunned, it looked so amazing,â Mr. McCloud said. “I told Emilia I was going to name her.”
âWhen Joseph told me he wrote about me for a competition, I thought it was really sweet,â Ms. Gonzalez said. “And then I read what he actually wrote and it was so beautiful I started to cry.”
He joined a group of 98 entrants who each named a respective Covid hero on Instagram, where the contest began on January 14. Submissions were due to be submitted exactly one month later, on Valentine’s Day.
Presenting his case to Ms Gonzalez, Mr McCloud began to write: âMy lovely Emilia has been the greatest gift God has given me for six years now. It has been the privilege of my life to build a relationship with this magnificent woman, who has grown into a friendship without limits, a love without a ceiling and an adventure to be cherished forever.
“This pandemic has wreaked havoc on both of us more and more, and Emilia has been particularly affected,” he continued. âAs labor and infectious cases increased, I saw how it affected her both physically and mentally, even though she tried not to show it. “
On February 18, contest officials contacted Ms. Gonzalez to set up a Zoom call with the couple on February 24 to supposedly conduct a brief interview with them. During the Zoom call, Joe Leinacker, general manager of Meritage Resort and Spa, Napa Vista Collina Resort, Napa, surprised the couple by announcing that they were the grand prize winners.
âWe were both so shocked that we couldn’t say a word,â Ms. Gonzalez said. “We just started screaming.”
On this day
When October 30, 2021
Or Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, California
Advantages The prize came with many additional goods and services for the couple’s wedding, including hair and makeup, flowers, stationery, and a wedding cake.
For registration The bride and groom covered part of the cost of the day. They hired their own photographer and videographer.
What they wore the bride wore an Oleg Cassini dress, paired with Badgley Mischka shoes. The groom wore a Cassaras Italian Men’s Wear tuxedo and Johnston & Murphy shoes.